Friday, February 5, 2016

Virtual Book Tour ~ Sweet by Alysia Constantine ~ (Author Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Virtual Book Tour ~ Sweet by Alysia Constantine ~ (Author Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway)
Author Name: Alysia Constantine
Book Name: Sweet
Release Date: February 4, 2016


Not every love story is a romance novel.

For Jules Burns, a lonely baker, it is the memory of his deceased husband, Andy. For Teddy Flores, a numbed-to-the-world accountant who accidentally stumbles into his bakery, it is a voyage of discovery into his deep connections to pleasure, to the world, and to his own heart.

Alysia Constantine’s Sweet is also the story of how we tell stories—of what we expect and need from a love story. The narrator is on to you, Reader, and wants to give you a love story that doesn’t always fit the bill. There are ghosts to exorcise, and jobs and money to worry about. Sweet is a love story, but it also reminds us that love is never quite what we expect, nor quite as blissfully easy as we hope.

Praise for ‘Sweet’ by Alysia Constantine from Publisher’s Weekly:

Pages or Words: 246 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance


"Speakerphone. Put me on speaker so you can use your hands. You're going to need both hands, and I won't be held responsible for you mucking up your phone. Speaker."
Teddy set his phone on the counter and switched to the speaker, then stood waiting.
"Hello?" Jules said. "Is this thing on?"
"Sorry," Teddy said. "I'm still here."
"It sounded like you'd suddenly disappeared. I was starting to believe in the rapture," Jules said, and Teddy heard, again, the nervous chuckle.
Their conversation was awkward and full of strange pauses in which there was nothing right to say, and they focused mostly on how awkward and strange it was until Jules told Teddy to dump the almond paste on the counter and start to knead in the sugar. 
"I'm doing it, too, along with you," Jules said.
"I'm not sure whether that makes it more or less weird," Teddy admitted, dusting everything in front of him with sugar.
"It's just like giving a back rub," Jules told him. "Roll gently into the dough with the heel of your hand, lean in with your upper body. Think loving things. Add a little sugar each time—watch for when it's ready for more. Not too much at once."
Several moments passed when all that held their connection was a string of huffed and effortful breaths and the soft thump of dough. Teddy felt Jules pressing and leaning forward into his work, felt the small sweat and ache that had begun to announce itself in Jules's shoulders, felt it when he held his breath as he pushed and then exhaled in a rush as he flipped the dough, felt it all as surely as if Jules's body were there next to him, as if he might reach to the side and, without glancing over, brush the sugar from Teddy’s forearm, a gesture which might have been, if real, if the result of many long hours spent in the kitchen together, sweet and familiar and unthinking.
"My grandmother and I used to make this," Jules breathed after a long silence, "when I was little. Mine would always become flowers. She would always make hers into people."
Teddy understood that he needn't reply, that Jules was speaking to him, yes, but speaking more into the empty space in which he stood as a witness, talking a story into the evening around him, and he, Teddy, was lucky to be near, to listen in as the story spun itself out of Jules and into the open, open quiet.
When the dough was finished and Jules had interrupted himself to say, "There, mine's pretty done. I bet yours is done by now, too," Teddy nodded in agreement—and even though he knew Jules couldn't see him, he was sure Jules would sense him nodding through some miniscule change in his breathing or the invisible tension between them slackening just the slightest bit. And he did seem to know, because Jules paused and made a satisfied noise that sounded as if all the spring-coiled readiness had slid from his body. "This taste," Jules sighed, "is like Proust's madeleine."
They spent an hour playing with the dough and molding it into shapes they wouldn't reveal to each other. Teddy felt childish and happy and inept and far too adult all at once as he listened to the rhythmic way Jules breathed and spoke, the way his voice moved in and out of silence, like the advance and retreat of shallow waves that left in their wake little broken treasures on the shore.
Only his fingers moved, fumbling and busy and blind as he listened, his whole self waiting for Jules to tell him the next thing, whatever it might be. 

Author Interview:

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Alysia Constantine author of Sweet

Hi Alysia, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

  1. Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?
I definitely read books suggested by friends.  I also browse and choose books based on my reaction to the first several pages.  (I admit that I usually don’t buy books, but I troll the library.)  I used to work in a bookstore that gave me a 40% discount on new books, and on my walk home was another bookstore that sold mostly used books, in which I spent whatever I earned that I didn’t already spend on new books and the first store.  It was a terrible job because I didn’t really bring home much money.  I love books as much for their physical presence (the smell, the feel of pages) as for their content.  I find them comforting.  I grew up with books all around, since both my parents were readers and teachers, and I was one of those nerdy kids who stayed up late to read under the blankets with a flashlight.  

  1. What does ‘romance’ mean to you?
I don’t like that word.  It implies a kind of performance.  Romance isn’t real, it’s fantasy.  While I think fantasy is nice, it’s realness that interests me more.  In fairy tales, the boy and girl ride off into the sunset after they fall in love at first sight.  You don’t ever see them struggling to understand each other, or apologizing after a fierce fight, or stuck together under a mound of unfolded laundry.  That fairytale fade-to-black is “romance,” in my mind.  I think there’s certainly an appeal for some folks in escapist fantasy, but it’s never really appealed to me.  

  1. What are your current projects?
I’ve just started working on a new novel that takes place in a circus/sideshow.  I don’t know much more than that at this point.  My partner and I are also working on a plan to move across the country, but that doesn’t really involve writing.

  1. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Sitting still and focusing are tough.  Writing isn’t easy for me.  I sometimes discover I’ve been holding my breath while writing.  I care a lot about how the language sounds, and sometimes that means that the bigger picture—the plot, for instance—suffers.  Sustaining a plot is tough for me.  Focusing is tough.  Buckling down is tough.  Sitting in a chair for long enough to write is tough.  Writing has never been easy, but it has always felt natural and inevitable to me, if that makes sense.

  1. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
Many years ago, on a trip with my then-partner to Taiwan, I visited a temple and was goaded into tossing runes that would tell my fortune.  I was supposed to ask a question.  I asked: will I ever have a book published?  I was a struggling poet then, and thought writing anything else was a cop out.  The runes said, yes, but not in the way you want now.  I think back on that—on the person I was then, imagining myself a poet and unwilling to accept anything different, hoping to publish a book but not really driven to write it, and how crushed and discouraged I was by the runes’ message—and I am slightly spooked by the weird prescience of the moment.  It was the moment I started to give up on being a poet.  Rather, it was the moment I began to realize that my image of myself as a writer was just that (an image), and that I needed to write what felt vital to me, not what I was “good” at.  

Open up your recipe box! Give us something that would thrill us.

Okay, when I originally wrote Sweet, I had appropriate recipes at the end of every chapter.  This recipe is my secret weapon.  I mean Jules’ secret weapon.  It’s totally killer, and not just because I love candied ginger.  The parenthetical notes are from ‘Trice.

Jules's Chocolate Chip and Ginger Cookies

3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (Jules likes the bourbon kind) 
1 tsp orange zest (If you are lazy like me, when you make these at home, you can just use ½ tsp orange extract or a few drops of orange oil
16 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (chips have too much wax in them—use actual bars of good chocolate)
1 cup candied ginger, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. 

Cream butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.  To butter/sugar mix, add 2 eggs, plus 2 Tbs of the third egg (oh, for god’s sake, just put the whole egg in… are you kidding?); beat until creamy.  Beat in vanilla and orange zest. 

Lightly mix in flour mixture, then stir in chocolate and ginger.

Scoop dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper; flatten lightly. (Do not eat the dough raw.  Jules warned me about this.  No matter how good it tastes, there are raw eggs in it.  So do not eat it raw.  Really.  Even though it tastes awesome.)

Bake cookies 13-15 minutes.  (Do NOT attempt to eat these right away.  They will burn you with their meltiness!  Some of us learned this the hard way!  Cool on a wire rack for a bit until they are not so scorchingly hot.  Then you can sneak a whole bunch of them into your bag to take home when Jules is looking the other way.  What makes you think I don't see you do that?  Best. Boss. Ever.)

Meet the author:

Alysia Constantine lives in Brooklyn with her wife, their two dogs, and a cat. When she is not writing, she is a professor at an art college. Before that, she was a baker and cook for a caterer, and before that, she was a poet.

Sweet is her first novel.

Where to find the author:
Twitter: @ConstantAlysia
Goodreads Link:
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer

Tour Dates & Stops:

Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card to one winner, e-copies of ‘Sweet’ to five additional winners

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi, everyone! Thanks to BBJ for hosting me today. I'll be back later tonight to answer your questions, so please ask them here! -Alysia Constantine

  2. congrats..sounds like a great story

    1. Thank you, thank you! Hope you have fun reading it.